A lot of questions are answered in Higehiro episode 9 as Sayu reveals her past – and it’s a lot darker than we imagined.
Sayu decides she must face her family in Hokkaido after her brother appears. Knowing she doesn’t have much time left, she calls Asami to Yoshida’s apartment and explains to the two of them everything that happened to her so far.
We learn that Sayu was a loner in high school and didn’t get along with her classmates. This is the first place Sayu learns how much looks can matter in the real world; because she was born pretty, everyone still tolerated her – but her only friend Yuuko Masaka got bullied after classmates kept comparing them to each other.
This part in her past also shows how having a poor relationship with her family deeply affected Sayu psychologically because she never learned how to communicate with others. Her only support system was Yuuko.
After the bullying worsens, Sayu smiles less and less, and Yuuko blames herself for this. This shows a similarity between the two girls; at this time, neither of them has any love for themselves. After Yuuko explains her guilt we see a heartbreaking scene where she jumps off the school roof, saying her final goodbyes to Sayu.
Sayu then shuts herself at home and the press chases after her wealthy family. After we think Sayu’s past couldn’t get any more depressing, her mom blames her stress from the situation on her daughter, thoughtless about how much she is hurting. Sayu apologizes over and over as she is scolded. This is painful to watch, as we are all thinking she did nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.
The mother seriously asks if Sayu killed her friend, making it clear she hasn’t paid any attention to her daughter and also obvious that she favors her son. Sayu decides this is the last straw and runs away from home. Her brother then finds her, surprisingly accepting of her decision, and gives her 300,000 yen to use for her needs. Issa seems to be the only person who tried to understand her pain.
Eventually, the money runs out, and this is when Sayu begins staying at random men’s apartments. She learns that most people don’t do things out of kindness and conditions her mind and body to this mentality.
As Sayu is continuously mistreated by different people, she loses her sense of self-worth. This is until she finally meets Yoshida, the first person to say no to her sexual advances.
He and their friends helped Sayu become the changed woman she is now: someone who can stand up for others, the way she stood up for Yoshida in front of her brother this episode, and someone who can stand up for herself, the way she pushed away Yaguchi on episode 6. Had Sayu never met Yoshida, her fate could’ve been very similar to her friend Yuuko.
The episode ends with an impactful discussion between Asami and Yoshida. Asami asks him what he will do about Sayu leaving, and Yoshida responds with a similar mentality to Airi Gotou that he can’t do anything. Asami, much like Yuzuha Mishima, encourages Yoshida to say what he wants to do, not what he thinks he should do. It’s interesting how the characters’ ideals parallel with each other, and we can determine that author Shimesaba wrote it that way to emphasize the lesson of the story.
The bulk of the episode explains Sayu’s development throughout the series, but now, Yoshida must overcome his own emotional barriers as well.
If you enjoyed episode 9 of Higehiro, vote for as best episode of the week here!
All images are from the Higehiro Episode 9 stream on Crunchyroll.